The Conversation

AP Calls Out de Blasio Over Lack of Transparency

From meeting with the mayor of Seattle, or Israel's minister of foreign affairs to the NBA commissioner, the Rev. Al Sharpton or Russian band Pussy Riot, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to prefer conducting a great deal of public business in private.

The trend is so pronounced, the AP has opted to highlight it with a news item.

From the first moments of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration, when he initially declared his midnight swearing-in off limits to the media, he has established a record of frequently conducting public business in private, with dozens of events closed to the press.

In nearly five months in office, de Blasio barred the media from 53 events and limited access to 30 more, an Associated Press analysis of de Blasio's schedule shows. On a handful of days, his entire schedule was off limits. All told, more than 20 percent of his listed events were closed to the media.

De Blasio, a populist Democrat who campaigned with promises of an open administration, said in a news conference in Brooklyn on Tuesday that he "believes deeply in transparency" and that his administration could do better.

"We believe there is a whole swath of information that needs to be available to the public and we need to continue to do a better job on that," he said. "There is a lot of day-to-day government business that is appropriately disclosable that we need to be better at."

Barack Obama has a reputation for doing much the same thing, including circulating in house photos of events, or meetings that were otherwise private. Most news organizations refuse to circulate said images.

Both Obama and de Blasio are considered populist Democrats. It's ironic that they both appear to enjoy giving the cold shoulder to an often friendly media thqat has done so much to make both men popular enough to be elected. That's show-business, perhaps.

In a speech this month to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll again criticized the Obama practices but also included a poke at de Blasio, saying, "It's clear that the most-used rubber stamp in his office is the one that says 'closed to the press.'"

"Bill de Blasio is a charming and talented man, but the people he's meeting with are doing so because he's the mayor of New York City, not because he's a charming and talented man," Carroll said in an interview. "We're not pushing this for our end. We're pushing for it because the press is a stand-in for the public."


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